Intersectionality has become a buzzword in academic and activist circles. The paper
contends that as animal activists and scholars, we need to take a hard and honest look at what intersectionality can and cannot do theoretically and politically by asking difficult
questions such as: How many intersecting lines of analysis can we expect one struggle to bear? How do we translate intersectionality’s normative commitments to inclusion and
social justice into points of intervention and coalitions for change?Dealing with these
questions is a pressing task; otherwise calls for radical intersectional politics will remain as empty slogans and wishful thinking.
Against this intersectional backdrop, the paper examines the case of animal activism in
Palestine-Israel. To understand Israeli animal activism, its historical and political trajectory, it is essential to situate it in the complex matrix of power relations that structure the Palestine-Israel context, particularly Zionist settler colonialism. In other words, I argue that there is no Zionist-free space in Israel and no standpoint of colonial innocence from which we can praise the “progress” and achievements of the animal movement. Drawing on recent
ethnographic fieldwork, the paper traces the animal movement’s evolving relationship with the Palestinian decolonial and anti-occupation struggle. While Israeli animal activism was born out of the radical anarchist scene and committed to a “one struggle” agenda, there has been a drastic decoupling of concerns for animals and humans (particularly Palestinians) in recent times. The paper examines the discursive and material mechanisms that prevent the formation of broader coalitions in the Israeli settler colonial context. It also considers attempts to resist from within and create intersectional spaces in the midst of single-issue activism. These attempts might not be the total liberation and grand intersectional
revolution theorists imagine, but they are certainly a good starting point to think about what intersectionality means in terms of political practice, agenda and strategies.
Esther Alloun is PhD student in the School of Humanities and Social Inquiry
at the University of Wollongong. Her research project investigates the emergence and rapid rise of veganism and animal activism within the contested context of
Palestine-Israel, and how questions of race, nationalism and settler colonialism are connected to animal politics. She is also interested in intersectional feminisms and has published on ecofeminism and veganism.